2016 was quite a year. It was full of events and emotions that are difficult to put into words. What I have finally been able to dictate about 2016 are my own feelings about the year in politics.
When I first decided to write something about the politics of 2016 it was much angrier, more intense and accusatory. I was hurt, confused and for the first time in my life, truly doubtful of our nation. Those feelings have evolved after listening and making a valiant effort to understand.
What I would like to discuss though is not necessarily about the political antics displayed during the year, rather, what people are actually upset about, why people supported the president elect and why it is important that we understand both sides of the coin.
I was 100 percent for one candidate. I actually said to a survey caller one time in October that I was 1,000 percent for one of the candidates because at that time, another skeleton had been found in the opposing candidates closet and I was roaring to express my disdain. Now that time has passed, my emotions have simmered and I have really listened to what people have to say about the election, I think it is time to try to understand one another; to listen without the intention of responding, rather listen with the intention of trying to fully understand and then responding thoughtfully, respectfully and thoroughly.
To do this, I have asked friends and family of mine to explain their fears associated with the upcoming presidency. I am doing this in the hopes that one side of the coin will be explained and so that I may better understand what the other side of the coin supports.
Below are quotes from friends and family of mine that have expressed their fears of the president-elect’s future presidency:
“I fear that Donald Trump doesn’t completely grasp the values that make our American democracy great. He has threatened to jail his political opponents and members of the press, he has said he wants to remove vast groups of people from the Land of the Free, and time and time again he has demonstrated he doesn’t believe all men (and women) are created equal.”
“I think one of my biggest fears of his impending presidency is how he’s changing the mentality of the country- meaning that I’m concerned he’s instilling hatred of diversity, tolerance, and pluralism.”
“A man who publicly mocked the disabled, who blatantly bragged about doing whatever he wanted to women without their permission and who ran a campaign solely on hateful rhetoric was elected into the highest position in office. My concern is that hate will be normalized and if that happens there’s no telling where this country is headed.”
“My fears are that the social atmosphere that his campaign and possibly his presidency will create/ have created will make the world a more dangerous and toxic place for people within minorities. That’s not to say he will do a bad job, that is really to highlight that he inspires people to act in scary ways.”
I have heard people express disgust when speaking about the protestors after the election. People saying things like “they just need to get over it” or “are you kidding me?! Their classes are canceled?!” What I have not heard though from these same people is any sort of commentary about why these people actually feel the way they do.
Why though are we discounting other people’s real fears and emotions? Why are we dehumanizing them as if what they have to say does not matter? Why are we not trying to listen to their fears and understand why they are so upset?
Their lives matter. Their opinions matter. Their emotions matter. Their fears matter.
Just as much as yours do.
We should be listening.
Just as I have explained the fears associated with the future presidency, I would like to listen and understand why other people chose to support our future president. I do not believe everyone that supported the president-elect is what people are accusing them of – racist, homophobic, xenophobic, etc. I know there are reasons why people supported the president-elect other than those accusations. Help me and others understand why you chose him.
I have no promises that I will agree with what is said or be less fearful myself of the years to come, however, it would be negligent of me not to try to understand the opposing opinion just as I have challenged supporters to understand us.
Let me be clear, I am not suggesting we can come to an agreement, I am suggesting we make a full, well-intended effort to understand one another, humanize one another and prepare each other for the United States we (or at least I) want to have:
One of peace. One of understanding. One of fairness. One of equality. One of acceptance. One of love.
To other people who are fearful of the future presidency: What are your fears? Please continue to share so we may all work together to make our country a safer place.
To supporters: Why did you support the president-elect? Please continue to share so we may all work together to make our country a more tolerant place.
To those of you who did not vote: Why did you decide not to vote? Please continue to share so we may all work together to make our country a more relatable place.